I Can Do Little, We Can Do More

By: Sean Dogan, Pastor at Long Branch Baptist Church

Sean Dogan has served as senior pastor of the Long Branch Baptist Church since 1997. Dogan is a graduate of Clemson University, The Shaw School of Divinity and The Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative.

Sean Dogan

Problems, people, process, planning, potential, progress and pretty creative solutions are all words that come to mind when I think of collective impact.

In 2011, the Stanford Social Innovation Review published an article that defined collective impact as “a group from different sectors that comes together for a common agenda to solve a specific social problem, using an organized form of collaboration.” However, the description leaves out patience, human complexities, trial and error, and firsthand knowledge of the identified situation, coined as “lived experience” by Paul Born.

In the old way of problem-solving, an isolated organization would identify a community problem that needed to be solved – like poverty, low graduation rates or unemployment – then gather data, tie on their “superhero” cape and fly off to save the day. The best minds of that organization would sit around tables, write on boards, collect ideas, seek funding and then charge out to accomplish the task. Needless to say, they often returned frustrated and unsuccessful.

Imagine what would happen if true collaboration and collective impact took place instead. Include representatives from the business, faith-based, nonprofit, financial, educational and health care sectors, along with those who have lived experience, to join the conversation and share knowledge to find solutions that can bring about undiscovered potential.

A great local example is the Greater Sullivan Community in the heart of Greenville. This neighborhood suffers from high unemployment and low graduation rates. Many facets of our community came together and focused on solutions for youth through a community gardening program.

The nonprofit community selected the participants and oversaw the operations. The faith community seeded the money and provided the land for the start of the project. The business community provided mentors, grants and employment opportunities. The educational institutions provided training and development. The health care community provided a platform to display produce. Financial institutions provided economic education. Community members provided their skills and resources, a greenhouse, land and a livestock farm. Those with lived experience provided information, inspiration and intense passion.

This successful collaboration created undiscovered potential and hope. Hope is amazing because it is hard to measure its worth. Many nonprofit organizations in Greenville could benefit from and should expand their collective impact.

If you want to join the conversation about collaborative leadership, attend Shine the Light’s “Expanding Leadership Beyond Your Walls” session on Sept. 9 from 8 a.m.−noon at the Kroc Center. Sydney Rogers, executive director of Alignment Nashville, will be the keynote speaker. She is currently developing Alignment USA, a national network of collective impact organizations that adopt Alignment Principles, Structure, Process and Technology.


Publication by: The Greenville Journal 


Posted September 08, 2014 in: Blog by Debbie Nelson

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